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December 22, 2008

MPBN Threatens Service Cuts

EDITOR'S NOTE: Barring some sort of massive breaking news, this will be our last regular issue of NERW for 2008. Check back next Monday, Dec. 29, for NERW's action-packed 2008 Year in Review edition, complete with a brand-new Year-End Rant. And if you don't find a 2009 Tower Site Calendar under your tree/menorah/Blaw-Knox tower in a few days, we've still got plenty of them for you at our Store.

A very merry Christmas, happy Chanukah, festive Kwanzaa, satisfactory Festivus or celebratory Armstrong's Birthday to you, and a happy New Year, too...and now, the news goes on...

*Public radio listeners in northern and eastern MAINE are about to lose service, if MPBN (Maine Public Broadcasting Network) follows through on its threat to close its transmitter sites in Calais and Fort Kent to help balance a budget that's battered by funding cuts and the overall economic malaise.

In what it says is an attempt to balance harsh financial realities with the need to continue to produce local programming, MPBN announced last week that it plans to cut $900,000 from its budget over the remainder of this fiscal year, eliminating eight jobs (out of a total employment of 86), signing off its TV network during overnight hours - and taking WMEF (106.5 Fort Kent), WMED (89.7 Calais) and WMED-DT (Channel 10) in Calais silent until at least the start of the next fiscal year on July 1.

If the transmitters are shut down, MPBN will lose coverage of some of the most remote parts of the state, the far north and Down East areas that already live at a huge remove from the state's centers of population, finance and government to the south. Fort Kent listeners will still have a fringe signal from MPBN's powerful Presque Isle transmitter, WMEM (106.1) - but in Calais, two hours east of Bangor, the only access to MPBN signals will be via streaming audio for radio and cable or satellite for TV. (There's an impact on emergency communications, too, since MPBN's radio network is the state's primary EAS backbone.)

Predictably, the move has prompted an outcry from listeners and viewers complaining that they're being sacrificed for the benefit of southern Maine. And even more predictably, the state's politicians quickly began weighing in.

"We can’t be leaving out any part of Maine in terms of access to this source of news, entertainment, and communications,” governor John Baldacci told the network's news department on Friday, promising to try to find "a strategy" to save the service to Calais and Fort Kent. (And leading NERW to wonder if that wasn't part of MPBN's own strategy all along...)

In other Pine Tree State news, Light of Life Ministries will be adding another signal: it's been granted a CP for 89.3 in Benedicta, a dot on the road just off I-95 about 15 miles northeast of Millinocket. Light of Life's application for 91.5 in Fryeburg has also been accepted for filing at the FCC.

Meanwhile in Corinth, about 15 miles northwest of Bangor, The Positive Radio Project has been granted a CP for 90.3.


And while we don't have a government coupon program to bail you out, we have an excellent, and equally inexpensive, solution:

Replace that soon-to-be-historic 2008 model with the brand new 2009 Tower Site Calendar before the new year arrives!

Order now at the Store!

*It was, at last, a quiet week in NEW YORK - which had to come as a relief to those broadcasters who haven't been hit by the layoff axe that's been swinging with abandon in recent months.

Indeed, the two on-air talents who left the Big Apple's radio airwaves this week did so voluntarily: Ian Camfield is departing the struggling "K-Rock" (WXRK 92.3) to return to his native England and his old on-air home, Xfm in London; Chris Carlin, meanwhile, is reportedly leaving sister station WFAN (660) for a new on-air gig at the Mets' TV home, SNY.

Over at Citadel's WABC (770), where MSNBC morning host Joe Scarborough and his co-host Mika Brzezinski are settling in as 10-11:45 AM hosts, observant listeners are noticing a new on-air sound: the talk station has a new imaging package created by Southern California imaging guru Ray Avila. WABC's own production director, the legendary Johnny Donovan, remains at the station even though his voice is no longer being heard in most of the imaging. (Gone, too, are most of the station's subtle imaging reminders of its old Musicradio jingles...)

There's a new addition to the ever-growing WAMC family of stations: the Albany-based public broadcaster has filed for a license to cover for the new WRUN-FM (90.3 Remsen), rimshotting Utica from the north.

In Bath, WABH (1380) has completed its power increase: it's now cranking out 10 kW by day from its three-tower array right next to I-86.

The co-founder of Woodstock's WDST (100.1) has died. Jerry Gillman put the station on the air in 1980, a decade after he and his wife, Sasha, moved to the area and found, to their surprise, that Woodstock lacked a local radio voice. Gillman sold WDST in 1987, but had remained active in local politics. He was diagnosed with cancer last year, and died on Wednesday (Dec. 17) at age 81.

*How about a good news story, for a change?

We find one in eastern MASSACHUSETTS, where two broadcasting veterans are unwrapping the gift every radio person dreams of: their own radio station. It's WNBP (1450 Newburyport), which is changing hands from Todd Tanger's Westport Communications to a new company called Port Broadcasting. It's headed by Carl Strube, who owned WJTO in Bath, Maine (and worked at stations such as WLOB, WGAN and WJAB) before moving into the music industry, and by veteran programmer Pete Falconi, who most recently occupied the PD chair at WODS in Boston.

Along with local businessman Robert Couture, Strube and Falconi say they intend to continue WNBP's long tradition as a community radio voice. Once the deal closes next year, they plan to move WNBP's studios from Beverly, where it now shares space with Tanger's WBOQ (104.9 Gloucester), back to Newburyport.

(This is not the first time WNBP has been in the hands of a former air talent, by the way: Tanger bought the station in 2004 from Bob Fuller, who was still in high school when he signed the station on back in 1957, when it was a daytimer on 1470.)

In Boston, Greater Media moved quickly to name a replacement for market manager Phil Redo. It's bringing Tom Baker back to the market, where he spent many years with WRKO and eventually became operations manager for Entercom's Boston cluster. Baker had most recently been interim market manager at Greater's Detroit stations after spending a few years with Clear Channel in Santa Barbara.

Why leave sunny southern California for icy (at the moment, very icy) New England? Baker, 66, recently became a grandfather, and his family is still in the Northeast.

*The last remaining on-air link to WCVB (Channel 5)'s first days on the air won't be around when the station celebrates its 37th anniversary next March. Unlike much of the initial WCVB airstaff, Boyd didn't come to the new channel 5 from its predecessor on the channel, WHDH-TV; he had been with New York's WNET, producing a show called "News in Perspective," when he was hired as a reporter for the Boston startup.

Over the years, Boyd did just about everything at Channel 5, with prominent anchor-desk assignments that included many years on the morning "Eye-Opener" and the noon newscasts. In 2006, he became only the third WCVB reporter to be named "special correspondent."

Now 66, Boyd (who's married to former WCVB senior producer Linda Polach) announced his retirement to fellow staffers on Thursday; it will take effect at year's end.

Meanwhile across town at WBZ-TV (Channel 4)/WSBK (Channel 38), the search for a new news director is once again underway. Jeff Kiernan, who came to the CBS stations from sister station WCCO-TV (Channel 4) in Minneapolis just over a year ago, is on his way back to his native Chicago to take the ND reins at a station even more troubled than WBZ has been in recent years. As news director of WBBM-TV (Channel 2), he'll be charged with turning around a station whose news offerings are often last among the market's big stations, and where morale has been low to boot. Despite (or perhaps as a result of) massive staffing changes not long after his arrival at WBZ, Kiernan oversaw ratings successes that included a move from third to first at 11 PM.

The "mainstream" media finally took notice of the disappearance of the analog signal at Fox's WFXT (Channel 25) last week, as Boston Globe tech writer Hiawatha Bray looked into the story last Wednesday. Bray quotes WFXT GM Gregg Kelley as saying that antenna problems have forced the station "to sharply reduce its broadcasting power" - but when even viewers in Needham, within sight of the tower, can't see the signal, can it really be said to still be on the air at all?

Still on the air, but with reduced staff, is Boston's public broadcaster, WGBH. It's blaming the poor economy for cuts that will eliminate a dozen jobs in the next few weeks. No on-air talent is expected to be eliminated, the station says.

Edited by NERW's own Scott Fybush - on sale now as an e-book or printed volume!

*There's another translator new to the RHODE ISLAND airwaves: W229AN (93.7 Providence) is now on the air from a short pole attached to the side of the studio building of WSTL (1220 Providence), which it's simulcasting; we hear the signal isn't getting out very well beyond the immediate area.

*There's a new construction permit granted in VERMONT: Northeast Gospel Broadcasting (the same folks who own WNGN 91.9 across the state line in Fort Ann, NY) have been granted a new signal on 89.9 in Swanton.

*NEW HAMPSHIRE - and much of the rest of central New England - continues to recover from the ice storm that downed trees and power lines all over the region.

Most of the signals that were silenced by the storm are back on the air, but not without a lot of hard work by engineering crews. Here's just one example: Dirk Nadon, regional engineering director for Nassau, sent along this photo of the access road (or in this case, lack thereof) to the WFNQ (106.3 Nashua) site, where the power was out for 10 days. Nadon says of Nassau's nine transmitter sites in the New Hampshire cluster, seven of them were running on generator power for four days or more.

One station that remains silent in the Granite State, though not because of storm damage, is Dartmouth College's WDCR (1340 Hanover). The venerable AM signal was knocked off the air over the summer after its ground system was damaged by nearby construction, and it filed back in late September for special temporary authority to remain silent while Dartmouth "evaluates" its options.

But WDCR's website, while still carrying a "WDCR 1340" logo at the top of each page, is now boasting that the station "is now broadcast solely over the Internet," and that it has "completed the process" of transitioning from on-air to web-only - so if the AM signal does return, might it be carrying something other than student-produced programming? Stay tuned...

*Rush Limbaugh is off the air in northwestern PENNSYLVANIA. Connoisseur Communications talker WJET (1400 Erie) says the rights fees being charged by syndicator Premiere were getting to be too high, and faced with the choice between continuing to pay for the Limbaugh show or keeping local staffers in place, WJET chose the local staffers. Dennis Miller replaces Limbaugh in the noon timeslot.

Meanwhile in Pittsburgh, KDKA (1020) has revamped its schedule, moving Fred Honsberger into the 12-3 PM slot that had been occupied for the last year and a half by Kevin Miller. Miller's out as part of the schedule changes, which expand the afternoon news block to 3-6 PM, followed by the return of former KD host Mike Pintek for the 6-10 PM slot, which knocks John Steigerwald off the lineup at KDKA after a year or so.

Some callsign news: When Harrisburg's WITF signs on its new 93.3 signal from Chambersburg (the relocated former WROG 102.9 from Cumberland, Maryland), it will have new calls WYPM. Telikoja Educational Broadcasting's new 91.7 in Laporte has been granted the calls WEVP. And that LPFM in Gap on 92.9? It's not going to use the requested new calls WRLY-LP after all, instead remaining WLRI-LP (though it's still apparently silent, anyway.)

*The noncommercial FM dial in NEW JERSEY is about to get a bit more crowded. The FCC has tentatively selected WYRS Broadcasting's application for 91.7 in Lakehurst over six other applicants in Lakehurst, Roosevelt, New Egypt, Hightstown and Princeton.

Meanwhile in Princeton, after popping on and off the air intermittently for a few weeks, we hear WHWH (1350) is once again back up and running with the automated "Radio TED" variety format.

*One of CANADA's most important broadcasting sites is under attack by the neighbors.

For well over half a century, Mont-Royal has been the home for almost all of Montreal's TV and FM signals, and with good reason - rising some 700 feet above (and just north of) downtown Montreal, surrounded by city neighborhoods on all sides, the mountain is the only spot that provides an unshadowed signal into the entire city. But it's also a public park, and one that was recently designated an "historic and natural" area.

So with Radio-Canada/CBC's ten-year lease of the tower site up for renewal, neighbors came looking for some changes. Last week, a city review committee recommended that the lease be renewed for just five years (at a starting cost of C$500,000 a year), with a five-year extension contingent on the release of three studies on the possibility of camouflaging or even relocating the tower.

Would Montreal's TV and FM dial really be compelled to move somewhere else? It seems unlikely...but we'll be following this story closely, just in case.

In eastern Quebec, the move to FM is now underway at CHNC (610 New Carlisle) and CHGM (1150 Gaspe). The stations are now testing the five FM signals that will replace the venerable AM outlets: 107.1 in New Carlisle, with 6 kW DA/169 m; 99.3 in Gaspe, with 468 watts DA/73 m; and relays on 99.1 in Carleton, 98.3 in Chandler and 107.3 in Perce.

The official flip to FM is set for tomorrow at 8:30 AM - which is also the 75th anniversary of CHNC's 1933 debut.

There's an AM-to-FM flip now underway in Kitchener, Ontario, too, where CKKW (1090) has begun testing its new FM signal at 99.5, with an official launch (and the start of the 90-day countdown to the signoff of the powerful AM signal) coming after the first of the year.

An hour to the east, there's a new AM signal on the air in Toronto. Just as this issue of NERW was being completed, we heard that there's testing now underway at CINA (1650 Mississauga), a multi-cultural outlet that will focus most of its airtime on Indian and Pakistani audiences.

And we've just learned of the death of one of Kingston, Ontario's most prominent radio voices. Carl Cogan was a Detroit native who spent his entire career in Canadian radio, starting as a record librarian at Montreal's CFCF, then working at CJBQ in Belleville before moving to CKWS (960) in Kingston in 1957 as a DJ. Cogan eventually became CKWS radio's program director, overseeing the flip of CKWS-FM (96.3) to country CFMK before leaving the stations in 1981. Cogan, who also taught broadcasting at St. Lawrence College and Loyalist College, died November 24 of Alzheimer's disease. He was 77.

From the NERW Archives

(Yup, we've been doing this a long time now, and so we're digging back into the vaults for a look at what NERW was covering one, five and ten years ago this week, or thereabouts - the column appeared on an erratic schedule in its earliest years as "New England Radio Watch," and didn't go to a regular weekly schedule until 1997. Thanks to for the idea - and thanks to you, our readers, for the support that's made all these years of NERW possible!)

December 24, 2007 -

  • It's unusual to see one of NEW YORK's most aggressive public broadcasters back down from a fight, but Albany's WAMC and its outspoken leader, Alan Chartock, has withdrawn from what turned out to be a high-profile battle over an open noncommercial frequency up in Lake Placid. As we reported in our November 26 issue, WAMC was one of three applicants for 91.7 there. That's a frequency rival public broadcaster North Country Public Radio (WSLU 89.5 Canton) has been using for W219AK, a translator that's been operating since 1993. North Country applied to use 91.7 for a full-power signal, with 100 watts, and it fought hard to defend its frequency once WAMC's rival application became public. In addition to newspaper articles in the local paper and in the Albany Times-Union, North Country held two "listener meet-ups" in Lake Placid to rally support for its bid for the frequency.
  • Late last week, WAMC backed down, reaching a deal to withdraw its Lake Placid application in exchange for an agreement to acquire the W219AK license if North Country is granted the full-power facility. WAMC would seek to move W219AK to a new frequency in order to bring its programming to the area. But North Country isn't out of the woods yet - it still faces another rival for 91.7. Brian Larson's Northeast Gospel Broadcasting (WNGN 91.9 Argyle) also applied for a Lake Placid 91.7 signal, and it believes it has the edge on the frequency. That's because of the way the FCC decides between competing applications for noncommercial frequencies: the point system favors applicants with fewer existing signals (Northeast Gospel has only WNGN, while North Country has seven), and it favors applicants whose proposals will cover more land area and population, an edge that's likely to go to Northeast Gospel's 8 kW application over North Country's 100-watt application.
  • In MASSACHUSETTS, the talk-host chairs keep spinning at Entercom's WRKO (680 Boston), where Reese Hopkins takes over the 10 AM-noon slot that used to belong to Todd Feinburg. Hopkins had done some fill-in for WRKO while Feinburg was covering Howie Carr's afternoon shift; his last full-time radio job was a six-year stint as news director/news anchor on the "Star and Buc Wild" morning show in New York. He left the show in late 2005, before the show was cancelled over Star's controversial statements. (Hopkins also worked for Howard Stern's Sirius satellite channels for a time.)
  • In northwest CONNECTICUT, Tri-State Educational Communications becomes the first applicant in the region (and possibly in the country) to get an actual construction permit out of October's noncommercial application filing window. The new station on 91.9 in Sharon will take the calls WHDD-FM, as a sister station to "Robin Hood Radio" WHDD (1020 Sharon).
  • The year's wrapping up with two more changes in Hartford radio. Clear Channel's "Radio 104" drops its previous WPHH ("Power") calls and becomes WURH. And over at Buckley's WDRC-FM (102.9), Jerry Kristafer is returning as morning man on January 15, ten years after he was fired from his last go-round there. Kristafer has been doing mornings at Clear Channel's WELI (960 New Haven), and it's not at all clear who'll replace him there. At WDRC, Kristafer replaces John "Cadillac" Saville. The station says Kristafer's new show will include more talk, and less music, than Saville's version did.
  • In PENNSYLVANIA, things are slowly getting back to normal after the storm that downed one TV tower and damaged several others in Scranton a week ago. WNEP (Channel 16), whose analog tower came down, crushing its analog transmitters, is working to get a replacement analog signal on the air from the nearby American Tower site that's home to its WNEP-DT (Channel 49) signal. (WNEP is feeding area cable systems with a standard-definition feed via the 16.3 channel of WNEP-DT.) Wilkes University's WCLH (90.7 Wilkes-Barre), which lost its antenna that had been mounted on the WNEP tower, is back on the air at low power from the college campus, with plans to get back to full power soon from a different tower on Penobscot Mountain.

December 22, 2003 -

  • Ever since Clear Channel purchased Ackerley back in June 2002, the rumors have been floating around upstate NEW YORK that the TV stations that came with the deal - a cluster of (mostly) ABC affiliates in Syracuse, Watertown, Utica, Binghamton and Rochester - would eventually be sold off. And, at least in the case of Utica, that rumor turns out to be true. Clear Channel announced on Thursday that it's selling Utica's WUTR (Channel 20) to Scranton-based Mission Broadcasting, a small TV group that also owns Scranton's WYOU (Channel 22). Like WYOU, which is operated under a shared services-and-sales agreement with Nexstar's WBRE (Channel 28), WUTR is expected to end up operating in tandem with Utica Fox affiliate WFXV (Channel 33), which Nexstar recently acquired in its purchase of the Quorum group.
  • Here's where things begin to get interesting: WUTR has had only a minimal local news presence since August, when Clear Channel fired most of its newsroom staffers, leaving just a skeleton presence to supply Utica news to Syracuse's WIXT, whose newscasts are now simulcast in Utica. WFXV, meanwhile, runs a 10 PM newscast that's produced by the big NBC affiliate in the market, Smith Broadcasting's WKTV (Channel 2). Will Nexstar launch a revived news operation to service both the ABC and Fox affiliates? And if it does, will WKTV then move its 10 PM newscast to its cable-only WB outlet, "WBU"? (2008 update: No news at the Nexstar duopoly, leaving WKTV as the only player, with a 10 PM on what's now "CW Utica.")
  • Speaking of Rochester, WBBF (93.3 Fairport), still stunting with Christmas music, fired yet another DJ last week. After 19 years in Rochester radio, 11 of them at WBBF and its predecessor WKLX, WBBF morning jock Mike Vickers is out the door at Entercom - and pursuing full-time employment as a Regional Transit Service bus driver, a job he'd been working part-time. The move leaves just one jock at WBBF (afternoon guy Tom Noonan), and plenty of questions about what will become of the oldies station after the holidays.
  • Nearly all of the city's commercial stations joined WCMF (96.5 Rochester) in remembering "Unkle Roger" during his funeral last week. The Entercom, Clear Channel and Infinity stations, as well as locally-owned WDKX (103.9 Rochester), all aired 30 seconds of silence in memory of Roger McCall, the veteran overnight jock on WCMF, who was shot to death Dec. 12 as he collected rent from a tenant on Rochester's Madison Street. So far, Rochester police don't seem any closer to solving the crime; meanwhile, WCMF took calls every night this past week from Unk's listeners and friends and played them back during his regular overnight shift. There's no word yet on whether anyone will replace him on overnights at WCMF - by NERW's count, there's now only one live overnight jock on Rochester commercial radio.
  • Nassau Broadcasting is serious about its committment to MAINE - just after announcing its $18.3 million purchase of Mariner Broadcasting's six stations (NERW, 12/15), the New Jersey-based company is also picking up the five radio stations of the WMTW Broadcast Group. The WMTW stations are all clustered in and near the Portland market: news-talk trimulcast WMTW (870 Gorham), WMTW-FM (106.7 North Windham) and WLAM (1470 Lewiston), hot AC WMEK (99.9 Auburn, with a Portland translator at 96.9) and country WTHT (107.5 Lewiston); they add to a group that will also include Portland-market WBQW (106.3 Scarborough) and FM outlets in the Kennebunkport, mid-coast and Bangor areas.
  • What's more, WMTW-TV (Channel 8) is reportedly also for sale, and the leading potential buyer is said to be Hearst-Argyle, for whom WMTW would be a nice link in the New England chain that also includes Boston's WCVB, Manchester's WMUR and the Vermont duo of WNNE/WPTZ. No purchase price has been announced yet for the WMTW radio deal; we'd expect a slew of format changes once Nassau closes on its various purchases, especially the WMTW news trimulcast and the "W-Bach" classical stations from Mariner.
  • A fire last Monday just outside Dover, NEW HAMPSHIRE silenced the state's newest LPFM station. WXGR-LP (101.5 Dover) had been on the air less than a month from its small building at the Littlebrook Airpark in Eliot, Maine when the fire destroyed the building and all of the station's equipment within. "Gritty Radio" didn't have insurance, so the entire operation - most of it paid for out of the pockets of station founder Tom Hoyt and other supporters - is a total loss.
  • There's a new format on the north shore of MASSACHUSETTS - WBOQ (104.9 Gloucester) dropped its standards/soft AC sound this morning to relaunch as "North Shore 104.9," playing 60s and 70s oldies with a heavy dose of local news, sports and events. WBOQ recently changed hands (within the Tanger family) from Marlin Broadcasting to Westport Broadcasting, and the format change seems poised to grab more than a handful of listeners who are missing the oldies that have been temporarily replaced on WODS (103.3 Boston) by Christmas music.
  • Over in Philadelphia, some changes are on the way to nighttime AM radio: WPHT (1210)'s Jeff Katz reportedly announced Friday night that he's leaving "The Big Talker," where he's been doing a 6-8 PM shift. Katz's departure moves Dom Giordano (formerly heard from 8-10 PM) up to 6-9 PM and shifts both Bill O'Reilly (formerly 10-midnight) and Rollye James (formerly midnight-3) an hour earlier. Katz, whose resume includes a stop at Boston's WRKO a few years back, was at the end of his contract and reportedly wants a morning or afternoon drive slot as his next gig. (2008 update: Katz's next stop was indeed in afternoon drive, at WBT Charlotte, which parted ways with him a few weeks ago)

December 26, 1998 -

  • When last week's NERW went to press, there were no urban-formatted stations in NEW YORK's Capital District...but this week there are two. The first to flip was WXLE (104.5 Mechanicville), which dumped its month-old "Magic" AC format last Friday to become "Jammin' Oldies," just like its Capstar/Chancellor sister stations in Tampa, Dallas, Chicago, New York, and elsewhere. So far, the new station is running jockless.
  • Next to go was WPTR-FM (96.3 Voorheesville), which pulled the plug on its low-rated hot country format to become "Jams 96-3," bringing Albany its first commercial outlet for hip-hop and urban contemporary music. WPTR had been fighting a losing battle against country giant WGNA (107.7/1460); will its relatively weak signal be less of a drawback when it's the only station in its format?
  • New to the Empire State airwaves this week was WXXE (90.5 Fenner), the first outlet of Syracuse Community Radio, which signed on for the first time at 3:07 PM on Monday (Dec. 21). While the station is being heard in most of Madison County, it's not much of a contender in Syracuse and Onondaga County just yet, thanks to co-channel stations in Baldwinsville (high-school outlet WBXL) and Rochester (WBER). WXXE put out e-mail this week advising potential listeners of specific street corners in and around Syracuse where the station is audible.
  • WQEW (1560 New York) is clearly in the death throes of its American Popular Standards format. No more jocks -- just taped liners -- and almost every spot break includes plugs for other area stations hoping for a piece of the audience. Among them: standards WLUX (540 Islip), WHLI (1100 Hempstead), WLIM (1580 Patchogue), WMTR (1250 Morristown NJ), and WVNJ (1160 Oakland NJ), plus public radio WNYC AM-FM (820/93.9), WFUV (90.7), and even the business-news machine that is WBBR (1130), occupying the dial position once held by the lamented WNEW (1130), the granddaddy of the standards format. The end of the format comes at midnight Sunday night, and of course we'll have tape rolling (and tears in our eyes).
  • On we move, to VERMONT, where WKDR (1390 Burlington) will start the New Year preparing for new owners. The news-talker had been operating under an LMA with Burlington Broadcasters (WBTZ/WIZN), but when Burlington declined to exercise their option to buy WKDR, owners Louie Manno, Jim Condon, and Mark Johnson began offering the AM to other buyers. The winner -- for a reported $475,000 -- is Ken Squier's Radio Vermont, which also owns WDEV (550 Waterbury/96.1 Warren), classical WCVT (101.7 Stowe), and country WLVB (93.9 Morrisville). It should be a good fit, since both WKDR and WDEV are among the Green Mountain State's top radio news operations. WKDR continued a holiday tradition this year by broadcasting the Radio Yule Log all day Christmas, by the way.
  • Does MASSACHUSETTS need another FM station in any of its markets, especially Cape Cod? We wouldn't think so (especially with that 102.3 in Truro that's still unbuilt), but it won't stop the FCC from considering a proposal to allocate 104.3 to West Tisbury as a class A allocation. (That's on Martha's Vineyard, by the way).
  • A tower grows in Newton Upper Falls: American Tower Systems is planning to put up a new, taller tower next to the "FM128" stick on Chestnut Street next spring. The new stick will be topped with a candelabra and will carry antennas for several FM stations (including the recently-moved WCRB) and DTV. (2008 update: That proposed tower was never built, and FM128 still stands by itself.)

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